To the Editor:
As Michael V. McGill wrote in his recent Commentary, “Making the Most of ESSA,” the new Every Student Succeeds Act gives states tremendous latitude in how they educate teachers. States should seize this opportunity to improve our nation’s schools by rethinking how we prepare teachers for the classroom.
McGill rightfully notes that developing a quality teacher requires training that is “deeply embedded and supported on the ground.” However, McGill did not directly address an emerging model of teacher education that offers real promise: residency programs, in which teachers-in-training work alongside experienced educators in the classroom under the guidance of university professors.
At New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, we are creating a new graduate program using a residency model. In the curriculum, online coursework is combined with full-time fieldwork in large-city school settings to cultivate classroom-ready teachers.
Technology enables us to have teachers-in-training embedded in schools so that they can connect theory to practice for the duration of their classroom preparation. In our new degree program, the graduate students training to become teachers will complete coursework online and work one-on-one with university faculty using distance-learning technology and video observation and mentoring.
With ESSA empowering states to set up new teacher academies outside of traditional universities, the new law is poised to undermine higher education’s monopoly on teacher education, which is a good thing if it spurs the growth of effective models like teacher residencies.
Predictably, some schools of education do not like the idea of expanding the number of organizations allowed to mint new teachers. Rather than being defensive, schools of education should embrace the innovation that comes with the law, not fight it to simply maintain the status quo.
Only through meaningful efforts that embrace innovation, including residency models and smart uses of technology, will this new law live up to its promise of making sure every student succeeds.
Gale and Ira Drukier Dean
NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2016 edition of Education Week as ESSA Can Empower States to Improve Teacher Training